The NRL is proud to be supporting Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's activities for this year's Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week 2015. The week will focus on what people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) can achieve and how the community at large can ensure society is inclusive and accessible for everyone, with a campaign titled Think I can't … Think again!
Tim McCallum is the national face of Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (8-15 November 2015), a campaign that debunks preconceived ideas about what people with a spinal cord injury are capable of achieving. As Tim demonstrates, people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) have the ability to overcome barriers and achieve their goals. But it's also up to people in the community to ensure our society is inclusive and accessible for everyone – and ensure we don't miss out on the skills people with SCI have to offer.
Tim was embarking on his career in the music industry when at 18 years-old a diving accident left him with a spinal cord injury (quadriplegia). Despite being told he wouldn't be able to sing like he used to, Tim defied expectations and returned to the stage by adapting his singing technique to compensate for the physical challenges of his disability. Tim now sings better than ever and performs some of the greatest tenor arias to a national audience – famously appearing on The Voice Australia earlier this year.
SCIA's ambassador for the week is Heidi Haydon, an Education Officer with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's Peer Support team. Heidi has paraplegia and loves going out with friends, she says some venues and clubs are old, unrenovated and frequently at the top of stairs. "If I have to get carried up a flight of stairs, well, so be it," she says. "Until they make changes, why should I and others miss out?
"[We] just want to go out like everyone else and not make a big thing about it, but most people don't get it," she says. "However, I don't let that stop me doing my bit to advocate for change. I'm the same as everyone else, I'm just sitting down."
Peter Perry is Chief Executive Officer of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, part of the Australian Spinal Injury Alliance – a collective of the country's eight leading SCI charities that run Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week.
"The Alliance represents the interests of all Australians who have sustained SCI. We hope Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week helps Australians understand that whilst SCI is a serious and life-long disability, people with SCI are involved in all aspects of life and are contributing to the community in many different ways. We can all support people with SCI by making our society as inclusive and accessible as possible."
Visit www.sciaw.com.au for more information about SCI and resources to help promote inclusiveness and accessibility.